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George Bush Intercontinental Airport, is a Class B international airport in the city of Houstonmarker, Texasmarker, United Statesmarker serving the Greater Houston area. Located drive north of Downtown Houston between Interstate 45 and U.S. Highway 59, Bush Intercontinental is Texas's second-largest air facility—after Dallas/Fort Worth International Airportmarker—covering an area of 10,000 acres (40 km²). The airport has scheduled flights to destinations in the United Statesmarker and international destinations in Asia, Canadamarker, the Caribbeanmarker, Central America, Europe, Mexicomarker, South America, the Middle East and scheduled charter flights to Africa. George Bush Intercontinental Airport is named after George H. W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States.

George Bush Intercontinental Airport served 43,176,478 passengers in 2008 making the airport the eighth busiest for total passengers in North America. In 2006, the airport was named the fastest growing of the top ten airports in the United States by the United States Department of Transportation. Houston is home to the headquarters of Continental Airlines, and Bush Intercontinental is Continental's largest hub with an average of 700 daily departures.


Houston Intercontinental Airport, as it was originally known, opened in June 1969. All passenger traffic from William P.marker Hobby Airportmarker moved to Intercontinental upon the airport's completion. Hobby remained open as a general aviation airport and reopened two years later to domestic routes and discount air carriers.

Houston Intercontinental had been scheduled to open in 1967, but design changes regarding the terminals created cost overruns and construction delays. The prime contractor, R.F. Ball Construction of San Antoniomarker, sued the city of Houston for $11 million in damages, but assistant city attorney Joseph Guy Rollins, Jr. successfully defended the municipality on appeal to the Texas Supreme Courtmarker. The airport was named "Intercontinental" instead of "International." Hobby airport had long been known as Houston International Airport. Because of this, since the opening of the airport, Houston citizens jokingly called it the "Intergalactic" airport.

In the late 1980s, Houston City Council considered a plan to rename the airport after Mickey Leland—an African-American congressman who died in an aviation accident in Ethiopiamarker. The city—instead of renaming the whole airport—named the Mickey Leland International Airlines Building, which would later become Mickey Leland Terminal D, after Leland. Houston renamed the airport George Bush Intercontinental Airport/Houston, after George H. W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States, in 1997.

As of 2007, Terminals A and B remain from the original design of the airport. Lewis W. Cutrer Terminal C opened in 1981, the Mickey Leland International Airlines Building (now called Terminal D) opened in May 1990, and the new Terminal E partially opened on June 3, 2003. The rest of Terminal E opened on January 7, 2004. Terminal D is the arrival point for all international flights arriving into Houston except for flights operated by Continental Airlines which uses Terminal E. Terminal D also held customs and INS until the opening of the new Federal Inspection Service (FIS) building, completed on January 25, 2005.

On January 7, 2009, a Continental Airlines Boeing 737-800 departing Bush Intercontinental was the first U.S. commercial jet to fly on a mix of conventional jet fuel and biofuel.


George Bush Intercontinental Airport served 43,176,478 passengers in 2008 making the airport the eighth busiest for total passengers in North America. IAH is the seventh largest international passenger gateway in the United Statesmarker and the sixth busiest airport in the world for total aircraft movements according to the ACI World Traffic Report for 2006. In 2006, the United States Department of Transportation named George Bush Intercontinental Airport the fastest growing of the top ten airports in the United States.

The airport currently ranks third in the United States for non-stop domestic and international service with 182 destinations, trailing Chicago O'Hare International Airportmarker with 192 destinations and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airportmarker with 239 destinations. Furthermore, about 45 percent of the airport's passengers begin or terminate (O&D) their journey at the airport. Bush Intercontinental ranks as one of the major United Statesmarker airports with the highest on-time performance, according to a 2009 United States Department of Transportation report.

As of 2007, with 31 destinations in Mexicomarker, the airport offers service to more Mexican destinations than any other United States airport.

The Houston Air Route Traffic Control Center, located on the airport grounds at 16600 JFK Boulevard, serves as the airport's ARTCC.

Terminals and airlines

Main entrance to the airport

Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport has a total of five terminals encompassing 250 acres (1 km²).

There are three main entrances into IAH's terminal areas. JFK Boulevard is the main artery into the airport and intersects with Greens Road becoming a freeway. Will Clayton Parkway runs east to west is another main road for IAH. The Hardy Tollway Connector runs from west to east connecting JFK Boulevard to the Hardy Toll Road.

Terminal A serves all non-Continental domestic and Canada operations (including Air Canada Jazz operations) and all Continental Connection operations, Terminal B serves all Continental Express domestic (and Canadian) operations, Terminal C serves most Continental domestic (and Canadian) operations, Terminal D serves all non-Continental international operations (including Continental Express) and Terminal E services all Continental international operations (and also some Continental domestic operations).

Terminal Map

Terminal A

Terminal A was one of the original two terminals to open in 1969. Like Terminal B, it originally had four circular modules (called "Flight Stations" locally) at the end of corridors radiating out of the corners of the terminal. However, in the late-1990s and early-2000s, the North and South Concourses were rebuilt into linear facilities which provide a smoother operation within the terminal. Terminal A has 20 gates, with 10 gates in the North Concourse and 10 gates in the South Concourse.

Terminal B

Terminal B
Terminal B was also one of the original two terminals of the airport to open in 1969. It is mostly an unaltered terminal from its original design and is used mostly by regional jets for Continental Express. For this reason, the jet bridges are considerably lower to the ground than most others.Terminal B has 31 gates and 20 hardstand gates.

Terminal C

Lewis W.
Cutrer Terminal C
Lewis W. Cutrer Terminal C, named after former Mayor of Houston Lewis W. Cutrer, was the third terminal to open at the airport following A and B in 1981. It serves as Continental Airlines's main base of domestic operations and they operate 2 President's Clubs in the terminal. Terminal C has 31 gates. The terminal includes the airport's interfaith chapel.

International Terminal D

Mickey Leland Terminal D
Mickey Leland Terminal D opened in 1990 and took over the international operations of the entire airport. Originally Terminal D, named Terminal IAB, was the only terminal to have a Federal Inspection Facility (FIS), and US Customs. At the time, all international arrivals used the terminal. The original name of Terminal D was Mickey Leland International Arrivals Building. Since the opening of Terminal E/FIS, Terminal D now houses all non-Continental international flights except for some Continental Express international flights. In 2007 the airport authority began renovations in which 20 additional common-use ticket counters, upscale retail and restaurant shops, and new on-airport spa/beauty lounge will be added over the next few years.

Terminal D has 12 gates and several international lounges including a British Airways Executive, British Airways FIRST, Lufthansa Senator, KLM Crown, Air France, and an Executive Lounge for Singapore, Emirates, Qatar, and Lufthansa.

International Terminal E

Terminal E
Terminal E is IAH's newest terminal, and houses Continental Airlines's international operations and some domestic operations. The terminal opened in two phases. The first phase opened with 14 gates, and the second phase added 16 gates in 2003 for a total of 30. Continental operates one President's Club in Terminal E.

Originally Continental used the terminal solely for domestic flights, but relocated its international services to the new terminal after the new Federal Inspection Service (FIS) building opened. The terminal was designed for maximum flexibility, with jetways that were able to handle any aircraft. Currently, all Continental international mainline flights arrive at Terminal E while all Continental Express international flights arrive at Terminal D. In addition to international flights, Continental domestic mainline flights also operate out of the terminal.

Terminal transportation

An above ground train called TerminaLink connects Terminals B, C, D, E and the International Arrivals Building (IAB) for those with connecting flights in different terminals and provides sterile airside connections. This allows passengers to travel within the airport without having to re-enter security. TerminaLink has three stops: Terminal B, Terminal C, and Terminals D/E including the IAB. Currently the airport is expanding the line to Terminal A at a cost of US $100 million, with construction beginning in early 2008.

An underground inter-terminal train outside of the sterile zone connects all five terminals and the airport hotel which can be accessed by all. This system is based on the WEDway PeopleMover technology.

In addition to train service a bus-shuttle service is offered from Terminal A to Terminals B, and C. This allows passengers needing to travel to/from Terminal A to access other terminals without having to leave the sterile zone.

Ground transportation


The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas, or METRO, offers bus service available at the south side of Terminal C. The 102 Bush IAH Express and the METRO Airport Direct serve the airport.

Courtesy vans

Courtesy vans are operated by various hotels and motels in and around the Houston Area. There are courtesy telephones in the baggage claim areas to request pick-up for most hotels and motels.

Shuttle service

Regularly scheduled bus and shuttle service is provided by various carriers to locations from IAH to Reliant Parkmarker/Reliant Astrodomemarker, Downtown Houston, the Galleriamarker, Greenway Plazamarker, the Texas Medical Centermarker, Westside hotels, the city of College Station and William P.marker Hobby Airportmarker. Super Shuttle also provides service from George Bush Intercontinental Airport to the surrounding communities via shared vans.


Taxis can be hailed through the Ground Transportation employees outside each terminal. All destinations within Houston's city limits to/from Bush Intercontinental Airport are charged according to the flat Zone Rate or the meter rate. The lives of many taxi drivers working at the airport revolve around the airport's taxi lot, nicknamed "Cabbieville." Taxi drivers servicing the airport come from many countries around the world.


Ed Carpenter's "Light Wings", a multicolored glass sculpture suspended below a sky light, adorns the Terminal A North Concourse. In Terminal A, South Concourse stands Terry Allen's "Countree Music." Allen's piece is a cast bronze tree that plays instrumental music by Joe Ely and David Byrne, though the music is normally turned off. The corridor leading to Terminal A displays Leamon Green's "Passing Through," a 200-foot etched glass wall depicting airport travelers.

The elevators in Terminal B are cased in stainless steel accordion shaped structures designed by Rachel Hecker. The corridor leading to Terminal B has Dixie Friend Gay's "Houston Bayou." This work is composed of an 8 x 75 ft (2.4 x 23 m) Byzantine glass mosaic mural depicting scenes from Houston's bayous and wetlands, several bronze animals embedded in the floor, and five mosaic columns.

Lights Spikes was created by Jay Baker, shown in the photo, were created for the 1990 G7 Summit when it was hosted by President George H. W. Bush in Houston. The sculpture was relocated to the airport outside of E Terminal after the meetings from its original location in front of the George R.marker Brown Convention Centermarker.

The distance between each “spike” and this point is relative to the distance between Houston and the capital of the country the flags represent. The countries represented are the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Japan, Canada, Italy and Germany, as well as the European community and the columns lean at a ten degree angle toward a central point that represents Houston.


George Bush Intercontinental ranks as the 11th-largest gateway in the United States in terms of international air cargo moved. The facility moved over 387,000 metric tons of air cargo in 2007, a 5.4 percent increase over 2006.

In January 2003, the Houston Airport System decided to create a new 125 million dollar, 550,000 square feet (51,095 square meters), called the George Bush Intercontinental CargoCenter.

The facility can handle up to 20 widebody aircraft at one time and has expanded to an operational area of 880,000 sq ft (81,752 m2) over the last five years. The CargoCenter has its own separate Federal Inspection Facitilty (FIS) that houses Customs, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), United States Department of Agriculturemarker, and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

The facility also includes the International Air CargoCenter II, a 60,000 sq ft (18,288 m2) perishable cargo handling facility. It is located in the IAH CargoCenter and offer direct ramp access for cargo airlines as well as importers and distributors of perishable goods.

For five years in a row, Air Cargo World has honored Bush Intercontinental Airport with the ACE Award for Excellence in the category of airports with less than 500,000 tons of air cargo annually.

Trade Data

Cargo Airlines

Master plan

The city of Houston presented its master plan update for IAH in 2005. The near-term plan calls for Terminal B's circular flight stations to be rebuilt into linear facilities similar to Terminal A. Soon after, all of the facilities in the North and South Concourses will be linked together to form two long continuous facilities. The long-term plans call for the existing unit terminals to be demolished and the North and South Concourses to be linked midway. A new Central Passenger Processing facility will be built, called the East Terminal. An underground people mover will also be built. Airfield improvements include a new Runway 8C-26C, a new Runway 9R-27L, a perimeter taxiway, and access roadways. If the FAA selects new sites for runways, the FAA may buy land from the Glen Lee Place and Heather Ridge Village subdivisions, which are located off of Lee Road.

Accidents and incidents

The following involved flights departing or arriving at the airport:


Image:BushIntercontinentalAirportMainentrance.JPG|The main entrance to the airport along John F. Kennedy BoulevardImage:GeorgeBushIAHMarker.JPG|Marker indicating the airport along Will Clayton ParkwayImage:Terminal d entrance.jpg|Corridor leading to Terminals D and EImage:GeorgeBushAirportTerminalE.JPG|Terminal EImage:GeorgeBushIntercontinentalFIDSTerminalB.JPG|Flight information display system at Terminal B

See also


  1. Houston Airport System
  2. Downtown to IAH. Google Maps. Last accessed April 21, 2008.
  3. [1]
  4. " George Bush Intercontinental Airport Guide,"
  5. " About George Bush Intercontinental Airport," Houston Airport System
  6. ref>Obituary of Joe Rollins, Houston Chronicle on-line, November 17, 2008:
  7. Connelly, Richard. " Forty Years Of Intercontinental Airport, For Better Or Worse." Houston Press. Friday June 5, 2009. Retrieved on November 2, 2009.
  8. Houston Airport System
  9. " Home," Houston Air Route Traffic Control Center
  10. " KIAH,"
  11. " Profile of a leading airport." Houston Airport System
  12. Terminal A Map. Houston Airport System
  13. Terminal B Map. Houston Airport System. Retrieved on October 2, 2009.
  14. Gonzales, J. R. " A little on Lewis Cutrer." Houston Chronicle. November 5, 2007. Retrieved on January 17, 2009.
  15. Terminal C Map. Houston Airport System. Retrieved on January 17, 2009.
  16. " Interfaith Chapel" of Bush Intercontinental. Houston Airport System. Retrieved on January 17, 2009.
  17. " Preparing for Emirates," Houston Airport System. November 9, 2007
  18. Terminal D Map. Houston Airport System
  19. Terminal E Map. Houston Airport System
  20. Houston Airport System
  21. " Ground Transportation" for Bush Intercontinental. Houston Airport System. Retrieved on January 12, 2009.
  22. " Use METRO's Airport Direct to Get to/from Houston Intercontinental Airport." Continental Airlines. Retrieved on January 12, 2009.
  23. " 102 Bush IAH." Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas. Retrieved on January 12, 2009.
  24. Harkinson, Josh. "Cabbieville." Houston Press. 1. September 22, 2005. Retrieved on October 8, 2009.
  26. Living in the way of the runway
  27. IAH Environmental Impact Study Website
  28. Lee, Renée C. " Living in the way of the runway." Houston Chronicle. May 13, 2009. Retrieved on May 14, 2009.
  29. " Denver crash victims arrive in Houston." MYSA. December 21, 2008. Retrieved on December 21, 2008.
  30. "
  31. [2]
  32. ASN Aircraft accident Grumman G-159 Gulfstream I N80RD Houston-Intercontinental Airport, TX (IAH)
  33. [3]
  34. ASN Aircraft accident McDonnell Douglas DC-10-10 N60NA Socorro, NM

External links

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